Coronavirus latest: update from the LGA's Chief Executive

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From the LGA's Chief Executive

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Dear Colleague,

On 18 April the Government announced a further £1.6 billion of non-ringfenced funding for local government to help them deal with the immediate impacts of COVID-19. This evening, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has confirmed how this will be allocated to local authorities and published individual council allocations. The grant will be distributed on the basis of an amount per head of the population, a 65:35 split between county and district authorities. Where there are separate fire authorities a specific share for fire of 3 per cent will be used. Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for MHCLG is expected to confirm the allocations in a detailed letter to all councils this evening. We continue to press the case that the Government should cover the loss of income local authorities are experiencing due to the pandemic as well all increased costs resulting from our COVID-19 response.

The Government has also confirmed that the outcome of the Fair Funding Review and the move to 75 per cent business rates retention will both not be implemented from April 2021. The Government will continue to work with councils on the best approach to the next financial year, including how to treat accumulated business rates growth and the approach to the 2021/22 local government finance settlement.

Like you, at 11.00am this morning all of us at the LGA joined in the national minute of silence for all the health, care and frontline workers who have sadly lost their lives in the pandemic. Our thoughts are with their loved ones and colleagues at this upsetting time. As a nation, we are incredibly grateful to every single person who carries out their essential duties serving our communities on the frontline.

You will have seen my note yesterday on the Government announcement about an assurance scheme for the families of health and care workers who have passed away as a result of their frontline role. The Department for Health and Social Care has confirmed today that this assurance scheme will cover the families of full and part-time staff who worked in frontline health, adult and children’s social care roles during the outbreak. Bereaved family members will receive a £60,000 lump sum. Of course, nothing can make up for the loss of a loved one but this scheme aims to ease some of their financial worries. Yesterday Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, stated that similar schemes are being considered for other professions working on the frontline. You can read more about what this means for councils’ workforce below.

Every loss of life during this national emergency is a tragedy. I know councils are taking every possible step to protect everyone but particularly our elderly and most vulnerable residents, and those who work with them, from this outbreak. Today’s figures on community deaths highlight the scale of the challenge we face. As we said in our media response, this is being exacerbated by the fact some social care staff and other frontline workers still lack the necessary PPE to protect themselves and the people they care for. We are calling for the Government’s online PPE ordering system to be fully rolled out, a rapid increase in testing, and support to care homes on staffing and equipment.

As well as protecting their physical health, I know you also feel a huge sense of responsibility towards the emotional wellbeing of your social care staff, who are working in unimaginably challenging circumstances. The LGA has worked with NHS England and Improvement to produce a comprehensive pack of information to support the wellbeing of managers and staff during this difficult time and ensure our critical services continue to run.

Below is a run through of some of the key announcements, updates and information from today:

This evening’s Number 10 Press Conference

This evening’s Number 10 Press Conference was led by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock. He was joined by Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser Angela McLean and Professor John Newton, Co-ordinator of the National Testing Effort.

The Health Secretary announced that from tomorrow the Government will be publishing the daily number of deaths in care homes and the community, alongside existing figures of hospital deaths.

On testing, Mr Hancock said the Government will make tests available for anyone who is working or living in a care home, whether they have symptoms or not. Anyone over the age of 65 with symptoms will also be eligible for testing, along with their household, as will those who have to leave home to go to work and have symptoms. Professor John Newton added that 25,000 people in care homes have been tested so far and collecting data on care home deaths will enable the Government to continue to monitor the situation.

Finally, on contact tracing Mr Hancock said the Government is aiming to recruit 18,000 contact tracers either before or once the NHS’ contact tracing mobile phone application is available, which he says is estimated to be in two or three weeks.

Adult social care

The LGA has published an advice note for Local Government Finance Leads and other key colleagues faced with the challenge of properly accounting for expenditure to be claimed against the national £1.3bn allocation to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). This funding is to support enhanced discharge arrangements during the Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring that reimbursement claims are fully auditable, internally and externally. This is intended to supplement rather than replace the NHSE&I guidance, frequently asked questions and responses, and model amendments/extensions to existing Section 75 arrangements posted on the Better Care Support Exchange website (login required).

The information provided to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) by care homes via death notifications now forms part of the ONS’s weekly reporting on deaths, ensuring a more complete and timely picture of the impact that COVID-19 is having on social care. Tragically, it is clear that this impact is a devastating one. To support those working in this area, CQC inspectors are contacting providers who have reported deaths of people in their care from confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in order to offer information, advice and help.


Yesterday, the Government announced that the single online portal replaced other manual application processes for testing for COVID-19. Testing capacity is due to increase significantly this week as the number of regional sites increases to 48 and the number of mobile testing units increases from 10 to 100 by early May. 

The Government has announced that 18,000 contact tracers, including 3,000 health professionals, are to be deployed to suppress the spread of infection by tracing anybody suspected of having contracted the disease. The LGA has asked that any plans to track and trace COVID-19 involve local government and make use of existing local knowledge, skills and existing experience on the ground.

Of course, any extra demand on existing services would need to take account of current demands and come with additional resources and funding. In the coming weeks, the NHS will be launching a contact tracing app which people can use to alert others who may have been exposed so they can take action to protect themselves.

Vulnerable people and shielding

A letter was sent to all chief executives yesterday from MHCLG outlining the new regional leads to act as ‘shielding contacts’ for every council. We are making the links across to our own regional structures and continuing to raise issues, particularly around data, to enable councils’ ongoing support for the clinically extremely vulnerable group.

The recently updated MHCLG FAQ requested that council phone lines be shared with them, and that staff on these lines and social services departments be made aware that referrals for care and support for the shielded group may be made via that route. It also confirmed that a Government call centre (the National Shielding Helpline) has been trying to contact those who have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable but have not yet registered via the GOV.UK shielding website or automated telephone line.  

MHCLG has advised that it has today started to share with council data leads the list of clinically extremely vulnerable people who have not yet registered their support needs with government, including those people whom the helpline has been unable to contact or register successfully. The data will be accompanied by guidance on the steps that councils may wish to take in relation to this cohort, including cross referencing with your own records to assess those who councils or local partners may have already attempted to contact, and making any necessary follow ups such as welfare visits. If you have any issues or questions about the data please email

Thank you to those who have shared with us examples of the fantastic work councils up and down the country are doing to support the whole range of people who are or may be becoming vulnerable, regardless of whether they are in the shielded clinically extremely vulnerable cohort.  Please do keep sending these through. We have consistently highlighted to Government the significant costs that councils are incurring in doing so and are discussing with MHCLG how this information could be captured through existing data returns.

Children and education

You may have seen coverage of our call on the Government to give councils and their partners greater flexibility to meet the needs of special educational needs children on Good Morning Britain today. We know that many of you have been challenged by parents about the support set out in education, health and care plans, despite assurances from Government in last month’s emergency Coronavirus Act which promised to temporarily remove or relax statutory provisions. We have called for a common-sense approach to meeting the needs of special needs children but urgently need the Department for Education to set out its definition of “reasonable endeavours” that takes account of the pressures that councils are under in delivering support. We know that legislation is due to go through Parliament and we hope that our calls speed up this process.

Following the popularity of our guidance for commissioners of adult social care services, we have now produced guidance for commissioners working with children’s services providers during COVID-19. This is designed to summarise pressures on providers arising from COVID-19, and to put forward ways in which commissioners and providers can work together to alleviate these pressures. It also outlines support available to council commissioners during the outbreak.

Domestic abuse

The Home Office has announced £3.1 million will go to specialist services for children who have both been directly and indirectly affected by domestic abuse. This could include one-to-one and group counselling sessions to improve the mental health of children affected and early intervention schemes. The new funding will be split between local authorities, children’s charities and Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales.

The announcement comes as the Domestic Abuse Bill is debated by MPs at the Bill’s Second Reading today. Ahead of this debate, we briefed MPs about councils' commitment to tackle and prevent this horrendous crime. This included a call for greater emphasis on how children can be supported when they have experienced domestic abuse, and greater investment in child and adolescent mental health services and early intervention work. It is therefore positive to see this latest announcement.

The Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Luke Hall MP, has also written to all local authorities to ask them to work closely with the domestic abuse services in their area, providing support where necessary in order to protect victims, for example by providing crisis funding to safe accommodation services. The Minister asks councils to work closely with domestic abuse safe accommodation providers to ensure that victims of domestic abuse and their families, including those from out of area, can be provided with safe emergency accommodation. The letter also provided access to a hotel booking arrangement if councils need additional accommodation to meet demand.

A reminder that the LGA has published a guide to help councils tackle domestic abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Waste and recycling

At MHCLG oral questions in the House of Commons today, the Secretary of State asked councils to plan for the organised reopening of their waste and recycling sites. Updated guidance will be published shortly to support local government to open sites safely during the coronavirus pandemic. We are aware of councils concerns about re-opening household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) and we will update you once guidance has been published.

The results of the fourth survey of the impact of COVID-19 on waste services shows that core collection services continue to be maintained, with a reduction in the level of disruption reported in previous weeks. There is still severe disruption to HWRC services and to garden and bulky waste collection service, although the 30 per cent of bulky waste collections operating normally is double the amount reported in previous weeks.

Thanks to everyone who has been responding and please keep sending in your feedback. This week’s survey has been sent to waste contacts with a closing date of noon on 30 April.

Housing and planning

Today we warned that desperately-needed social housing could go unbuilt unless councils are granted an extension to the time they are allowed to spend money from Right to Buy sales. We have called on the Government to extend the time councils have to use Right to Buy receipts from three to at least five years. This will give councils more time to spend the money, which is critical if we are to get building the homes the country needs once the coronavirus pandemic passes.

The Planning Inspectorate has provided an update on what councils can expect from their service during the period in which the lockdown measures are active. This includes an update on the types of appeal cases which they are still continuing to progress and of the work taking place behind the scenes to implement digital events, for example hearings and inquiries held via telephone or video conferencing.


The Department for Education (DfE) has launched a Skills Toolkit aimed at furloughed workers and others that want to take the opportunity to upskill. The initial focus of the Toolkit is on digital and numeracy skills, as these are the most sought after by employers and will be important in supporting people to secure and progress in work.

Funerals, burials and cremation

I know that everyone wants to honour the obligations set out in Part 4 of Schedule 28 to the Coronavirus Act, which places a legal obligation on local authorities to have regard to a person’s wishes, religion or beliefs where known, or the method used for their final committal. Our examples of good council practice include one from Blackburn with Darwen. I have also read of several examples of specific or multi-faith blessings for the temporary mortuaries that have had to be set up around the country.

You may like to see the reply we have sent today to the Covid-19 Muslim Lawyers Pro Bono Group along with the letter that some chief executives will have received earlier this month.  If you have further examples of ways in which you have taken actions to ensure that the wishes of people of particular faiths can be respected, that you would like to share with other councils, do send an e-mail to

Social Work Together

Social Work Together is designed to help councils respond to the impact of COVID-19 on their workforce and communities. Developed by the LGA, the Government and Social Work England, this campaign provides an online platform for councils to connect with social workers returning to work in their areas. I encourage councils who have signed up, to make full use of our portal (login required). We know that social workers provide vital services every day, and there are nearly 1,000 candidates on our platform who are waiting to speak to councils about local vacancies. They are committed to returning to work and are currently completing online training on how COVID-19 impacts social care so that they can provide effective support to your organisation. If you haven’t already signed up, you can do so on our website.

Council workforce

The major elements of the health and social care life assurance scheme announced yesterday are that it applies to workers in frontline health, adult and children’s social care roles, including some local authority employed staff. The £60,000 payment will be regardless of any other pension scheme benefits and made in the event of a coronavirus related death of someone who provides hands-on personal care for people who have contracted coronavirus or who works in health or care settings where the virus is present. We are actively seeking further details on the scope and coverage of the scheme as well as making representations on behalf of frontline local government staff not covered by it.

Local Government Ombudsman

You will be aware that the Local Government and Social Care (LGO) Ombudsman has taken unprecedented action to suspend all casework activity that demands information from, or action by, councils and care providers. This follows representations from the LGA as we seek to ensure you are able to focus capacity on the immediate challenges of tackling the national emergency.

This week, the LGO has confirmed to us that this suspension of current investigations will continue for the time being. They plan to start testing ideas with councils and the public to assess how they can best gradually re-start their work in a pragmatic and sensitive way that reflects the realities on the ground. I know councils continue to prioritise listening and responding to the most pressing public concerns during this time and have put in place appropriate arrangements to ensure this is happening.


We are working to make sure the challenges you face are at the top of the news and parliamentary agenda and are currently briefing several news outlets on the current situation. One of them is Channel 4 News who are looking at putting a package together for next week exploring how cost pressures and income losses are combining as councils strive to protect communities and keep services running. As usual, if you are keen to take part in any filming with them please let know and also keep making sure is receiving all your council press releases. These are invaluable in helping us promote your efforts and highlight good practice.

Also keep up the great work using #ThankYouLocalGov and #CouncilsCan across social media so we can help amplify your local stories.

May Bank Holiday

Just a reminder that the date for the early May Bank Holiday moved this year to Friday 8 May, in order to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE day, which marks the end of World War Two. The local and national commemorations to mark this occasion will look very different to how they would have done had the outbreak not started. Depending on what stay at home measures are in place later in the summer, VJ Day on 15 August may be a further opportunity to thank the Second World War generation and provide the fitting tribute they deserve.

As always, if you have any issues you think we should be aware of, either to raise on your behalf or help support you on the ground, please email or liaise with your Principal Adviser.

Best wishes,

Mark Lloyd
Chief Executive
Local Government Association

Mark Lloyd